Emergencies can happen without warning, no matter where you live. Each year, weather and natural disasters play havoc with people’s lives. In the western US, severe drought has resulted in wildfires, mudslides and destruction. Earthquakes shake California and other areas of the country. Tornados slam into homes and businesses in the US midwest. On the east coast, hurricanes and blizzards have caused power outages for days. Are you ready if disaster strikes your life, home, city or state? Do you have a go bag?
What’s a go bag? It’s a backpack or suitcase filled with everything you need if you are evacuated or if power is lost. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends a go bag for everyone living in a home, from adults to children, even the pets. It should be stored within easy reach. Phil May, regional manager for FEMA responsible for FEMA Region IV, says, “You should be prepared to take care of yourself and members of your family for the first 72 hours – that’s three days – following a disaster, such as a hurricane.” He adds, “Packing an emergency preparedness kit helps ensure the safety and comfort of you and your family members at a time when basic public services may be disrupted.”
Here’s what you need to include in each go bag, according to Ready.gov:
- Water. Figure on one gallon per person per day for at least three days.
- Food. Non-perishable, ready-to-eat food for three days, which can include protein or fruit bars, granola, peanut butter, nuts, crackers, high-energy foods and non-perishable pasteurized milk. Include special food for infants in their individual go bags.
- Energy drink powder
- Prescription medications
- Sleeping bag or other bedding
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio, with extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle or air horn
- Dust mask
- Moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal hygiene
- Wrench or pliers
- Can opener
- Cell phone with chargers, extra batteries or, better yet, a solar charger
- Copies of your personal documents, including passport, insurance card, medical power of attorney, list of drug allergies
- List of emergency phone numbers, including your primary care physicians
Make sure your pet go bag includes three days of food, extra medication, and bedding.
Go bags should be kept in a cool, dry place where bugs and rodents can’t access them; plastic tubs or metal trash cans are portable and will keep vermin and bugs out. Once packed, write on your calendar an appointment every three months for when you need to check your bags to refresh the food and drink items. Toss any cans that bulge or are dented. Write expiration dates on each item and switch them out before they go bad.
Remember to equip your vehicle with emergency supplies as well; you never know when an accident will occur or when you’ll need to leave quickly. A car kit should include:
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Protein bars or nuts
- Bottled water
- Separate battery-powered radio
- Cat litter in the winter to help with traction
- Ice scraper
- Blanket or sleeping bag
- Extra change of clothes
We never anticipate that bad things are going to happen to us, but we never know when disaster will strike, whether from nature or other causes. Being prepared can keep you and your family safe until danger passes.
For more information on go bags and disaster preparation, go to Ready.gov.